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Roadblock to justice


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Roadblock to justice:

Hundreds flood streets in protest of Sean Bell verdict



May 7th 2008




Hundreds of Sean Bell supporters made good on their vow to cause traffic mayhem today by blocking bridge and tunnel entrances and disrupting traffic at other key spots.


Protesting the acquittal of three cops who killed the groom with a 50-shot blast on his wedding day, they demonstrated outside One Police Plaza and at five other locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


Dozens were arrested, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Bell's fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell, and the two survivors of the Bell shooting, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman.


The most dramatic demonstration was on the Upper East Side, where about 100 protesters waded into traffic and made for the Queensborough Bridge.


"Get on your knees! Get on your knees!" an organizer yelled.


And they did before the police, who greatly outnumbered the protesters, could stop them.


"It has nothing to do with race or being anti-NYPD," said demonstrator Antwan Minter, 31, of Harlem. "This is about basic human rights."


Cops had dozens of demonstrators in handcuffs within 15 minutes and the bridge was reopened.


"I'm going to jail for Sean Bell," Dow Buford, 52, of Staten Island, said as he was led away. "I'm mad as hell."


Protesters also briefly blocked the entrances to the Midtown and Holland tunnels before police arrested the ringleaders and dispersed the others.


In Harlem, two dozen people were arrested when they tried to block the entrance to the Triborough Bridge.


Sharpton promised the protests - aimed at pressuring the feds to try the Bell detectives on civil rights charges - would be peaceful.


Outside of a brief shoving match between Brooklyn councilman Charles Barron and cops, there largely were.


Sharpton arrived at police headquarters a little before 4 p.m. holding Paultre Bell's hand. Also with them were Bell's parents, William and Valerie.


While the demonstrators chanted "No justice, no peace," organizers went from protester to protester to take their names and find out if they would be willing to get arrested. They found about 125 volunteers.


"That's good," said William Bell, who chose not to get arrested. "It's all over the world. We really appreciate the love."


Sharpton then led the demonstrators to the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge where they ran into a wall of police officers, who ordered the protesters to disperse.


Sharpton refused. So the officers cuffed his hands - and those of Paultre Bell, Benefield and Guzman - behind their backs and loaded them in a police van.


In Brooklyn, a crowd of 200 protestors led by Barron and Rev. Herbert Daughtry tried to march onto the Brooklyn Bridge from their side of the East River.


They were diverted to the Manhattan Bridge, where traffic to and from the city was blocked briefly before cops cleared them away.


Before the demonstrations, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said they didn't anticipate serious interruptions to the evening commute. He also made sure there were extra officers at each of the six protest sites.


Fearing disruptions, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also made plans to detour buses around the protest areas.


Private commuter services like Access-A-Ride sent out automated recordings to customers warning them of "stoppages" and "delays due to protests."


"It's annoying to me," said Susan Banks, 65, who commutes from her secretarial job near Rockefeller Center to Midwood, Brooklyn. "I'm coming home at that time. I'm sympathetic to any protests, but not when it affects me."

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The prosecution had nothing to work with.They had 2 witnesses who LIED on the stand.Let's face it,if you are going to get drunk,do drugs and get behind the wheel of a car anything can happen,and did.

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I truly believe that this "roadblock" was uncalled for. I for one was in downtown brooklyn when the protest had started and trying to find away to get home was not cool. Buses were diverted and streets was blocked off it was really crazy. I highly doubt that there will be a federal case against the three detectives, all because of one person, Al Sharpton who I feel blew this whole thing out of context. Gotta protest??? Then protest against cops, or something that had to do with the police department, it really seem like they made a useless point on blocking the bridges, or so called shutting down the city. I hope Al Sharpton knows that we commuters had nothing to do with this event, and most of us don't want to get involved. Luckily there was no huge emergency like a fire, at or near the protest sites this way Al Sharpton can see the errors of his ways. Here is a special note to Al Sharpton, if you have to protest, do it, just make sure we commuters can get home alright.

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